Reem Acra

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Fashion Designer Reem Acra

Reem Acra is a fashion designer born in Beirut, Lebanon, known for her eponymous bridal gown line and her ready-to-wear collection. Acra came to fame in 1999 for her bridal gowns. As a designer, she's known for detail, new and modern concepts[1] and distinctive tailoring.[1] Her designs are frequently seen on red carpets around the world.[1]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Acra was born at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where her parents both worked. Her mother, Nadia, worked in the family medicine department, and her father, Aftim,[2] was a prominent and distinguished academic,[3] professor, and public health expert.[4][5]

Acra grew up with three brothers, Michael, Max, and Sari,[3] in Beirut.[5] A live-in seamstress would tailor dresses for her and her mother. She attributes her keen eye to this experience.[1] Shopping with her mother in Beirut souks[6] shaped her earliest experiences with fashion and fabric, and she became fascinated with beading and intricate embroidery after buying a vintage dress from a Bedouin at her mother's urging.[7]

Acra's father, well known for his amber collection,[8] would often hike into the mountains with Acra and her brothers looking for amber. Her early exposure to this world stayed with her and inspired her 2011 ready-to-wear collection.[9]

Acra began to seriously consider fashion in her late teens, after being complimented on one of her own dresses by a woman who encouraged her to join the fashion club at the American University in Beirut, where she was a student. She held a fashion show in June 1982 that attracted 2,000 people.[10]

Acra graduated from the American University in Beirut in 1982 with a business degree,[2] she then took courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, graduating magna cum laude in 1986 and winning the Fashion Design Department’s award for her year.[11] She is recognized as one of the school's most prominent graduates.[12]

After graduating from FIT, Acra studied at the École Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode design school in Paris.[11]

Acra left Beirut in 1983, relocating to New York City, during the peak of the Lebanese Civil War.[5]

Career[edit]

Reem Acra's designs on the runway

After her studies at ESMOD in Paris, Acra took mainstream fashion design positions in Hong Kong and Taiwan. At the age of 25 she was overseeing a $30 million project, but left after seven years to start her own line in New York.[10]

Interior Design[edit]

Acra worked as a luxury interior designer for three years before starting her own line.[13] She has said interior design is not that different from designing fashion: "Color is color whether it’s on a body or in a room."[11] Acra custom crafts her living quarters making each a show place. Her home in New York was photographed on the cover of the July/August 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors.[14]

Bridal Line[edit]

Acra started her company in 1997 as a bridal line,[1] after designing a dress for a friend's wedding in three weeks, on a bet that if she could meet the deadline, her friend, would go through with the wedding, set in Paris at the Hôtel de Crillon.[1] Acra took a photograph of the dress and distributed it to the media, including The New York Times, which published the photograph.[7][13]

Soon after, she bought $20,000 in fabric with her American Express card, pitched designs to Saks Fifth Avenue and Kleinfeld, and received an order for thirty dresses. She then worked with 89-year-old Max Kane, who owned a factory on 39th Street in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. Acra credits her early success with Kane's mentoring and support. After working with Kane, Acra expanded her business to additional factories and opened her own production centers.[13]

Acra's bridal gowns have been featured on the covers of numerous bridal magazines, including The Knot, Brides, D Wedding, Modern Luxury Brides, Wedding Unveiled, and Town & Country Weddings.[15]

She held her first fashion show in 1999, and with the introduction of her design collection, changed the bridal gown industry, creating a luxury brand niche that previously did not exist.[10] She has held shows during New York Fashion Week each season thereafter.[16]

Her atelier is located on West 35th Street in Manhattan.[17]

Expansion[edit]

Her brand expanded to include evening-gowns in 2003.[11] and a ready-to-wear collection in 2008.[18] Her designs are carried in more than 150 retailers around the world.[18]

Popular Culture[edit]

Madonna (right) wearing Reem Acra at the 69th Golden Globe Awards in 2012

Acra is an established designer for royalty[11][19][20][21] and celebrities. She has said that Angelia Jolie and Madonna are here two favorite celebrities to dress: "I love Angelina Jolie—there’s not a question. And I love Madonna. For me, those two celebrities are really style icons. They are trendsetters. Just to have the opportunity to dress them is a big deal."[22]

A few of the celebrities who have worn Acra's gowns include:

Well-known figures who have worn Acra's bridal gowns during their weddings include LeAnn Rimes,[29] Jenna Dewan,[30] and Marcia Cross.[31]

Her designs have been worn by celebrities at the Oscars,[32] the Emmys,[33] the Tony Awards,[34] and the Golden Globes.[28]

Television series Ugly Betty[35] and Gossip Girl[36] have referenced Acra.

Acra's designs have been featured in and on the covers of numerous magazines and newspapers, both for their design and the celebrities who wear them, including Ciara on the cover of Brides, Lily Allen in Cosmopolitan, and Madonna in Harper's Bazaar.[15]

Retail[edit]

Acra opened her New York showroom at 730 Fifth Avenue[37] in Manhattan[38] in 2007, which also houses her boutique.[13]

A photograph through the front window of Reem Acra's Beirut boutique.

Her brother, Max, spearheaded the effort to open her store in Beirut,[7] and also helped design the store, which includes Acra's evening wear and ready-to-wear collections, in addition to accessories and a bridal salon. The store is located at 94 Avenue Foch and opened in November 2010.[5][39]

Acra's retail reach includes Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue[40] in the United States, among other luxury outlets. Her designs are available at Harvey Nichols in Dubai,[41] Hong Kong,[42] Beymen Bridal in Turkey,[43] Al Ostoura in Kuwait,[44] Bloomingdales in Dubai,[45] Symbol in Kiev,[46] and Harrods in London,[47] and other luxury outlets in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.[48]

Acra also launched a line on the Home Shopping Network in September 2010.[49]

Other Enterprises[edit]

In August 2007, a limited edition Reem Acra Bride Barbie doll was released, intended for adult collectors.[50] Acra has said that "Barbie has always been an inspiration. Dressing her was part of every girl’s dream. We had a live-in seamstress who made my clothes; and while she was making my clothes, I would sit next to her and make matching outfits for Barbie with the leftover fabric."[51]

In May 2014, Acra joined other designers in a reimagining of the wardrobes of the characters from The Wizard of Oz.[52]

In 2014, Acra designed and produced the uniforms for the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where her parents both had worked.[4]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In October 2014, Acra was honored with the Building Bridges award[53] from Bridges of Understanding, a non-profit that seeks to improve relations between the Arab World and the United States.[54]

Acra is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America,[18][55] and the Dubai Design and Fashion Council since its inception.[56][57]

Personal life[edit]

Acra enjoys Argentinian tango and salsa music and the songs of Edith Piaf. Her favorite food is tabouleh.[7][18] Her favorite movie is Love Story[disambiguation needed].[18]

Acra owns a fluffy white Maltese dog named Lou Lou, who travels around the world with her. On location, Lou Lou, now 13 years old, has its own stroller and blue leather carrying bag.[58] Lou Lou has walked the runway during New York's Fashion's Night Out.[59] Acra told the New York Times in 2008: "Though I’m a fashion designer, I never stuff my luggage with too many items. But like many people, I like to travel with a companion. In my case, it’s my 6-year-old Maltese, Lou Lou. She is a great traveler and loves exploring hotels in Paris and other exotic locales."[5][60]

Homes[edit]

Acra's home in New York City is a 3,200-square-foot loft in the Garment District, Manhattan. A New York magazine profile of Acra's apartment describes it as featuring: "...[a] striking photograph by Ruven Afanador ... part of an ad campaign for Acra’s bridal business; she enlarged it and let it take over a wall, transforming the image into a piece of art. A table was fashioned from blocks of resin that contain delicate pieces of sequin-embroidered lace that Acra used in her first bridal designs, an idea inspired by her father’s collection of amber.[61]

In addition to her New York City loft, Acra bought and renovated a 2,400-square-foot apartment in the husk of a bombed-out, 19th-century building in Saifi Village near downtown Beirut. A Wall Street Journal story on the apartment characterizes it as having minimal furnishings and bold colors. "I didn't want to overwhelm the place with things," Acra told a reporter for the story.[6]

She owns four homes altogether, two in Beirut, one in New York and one in Nashville.[6] Her mother and her brother, Dr. Sari Acra, a pediatric gastroenterologist,[62] live in Nashville.

Sponsorship of the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Equestrian Games[edit]

Acra is passionate about horseback riding,[63] and her label has sponsored the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Cup Dressage series since 2010.[64][65] Acra also has sponsored FEI's annual Best Athlete award and often attends equestrian events held around the world.[66][67]

Acra has designed gowns for the winners of her namesake Reem Acra Athlete of the Year award winners Adelinde Cornelissen[68] and Charlotte Dujardin.[69]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "Hot Couture". The MainGate Magazine (American University of Beirut). 2005-05. Retrieved 21 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Veteran AUB Professor and Public Health Expert, Dies". AUBulletin Today. 2007-05. Retrieved 2014-08-20.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b Karimzadeh, Marc (May 30, 2014). "Reem Acra Designs Uniforms for the American University of Beirut Medical Center". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Karam, Zeina (2010-11-03). "Reem Acra returns home to Beirut with first store". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Anderson, Brooke (2013-06-20). "Reem Acra's Eye for Beirut's Beauty". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Geana, Alex (2010-08-15). "At Home With Reem Acra (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  8. ^ Acra, Aftim. "The Amber of Lebanon: an Ecological Museum of Fossils". American University of Beirut. American University of Beirut. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Reem Acra & Equestrian Sport". FEI Equestrian World. 2011-08. Retrieved 21 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b c Hatem, Yasmina (2012-11-05). "Underneath the Dress: Reem Acra". Now Magazine (Mercury Media, Inc.). Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Joseph, Alex. "The Gold Standard: Reem Acra, Fashion Design ’86, is having her moment". Hue Magazine. State University of New York. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Gaffney, Adrienne (2014-08-22). "Reflecting on 70 Years of FIT". Gotham Magazine (Gotham Magazine). Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d "An Interview with Reem Acra, Designer". Leaders Magazine. 2010-10. Retrieved 21 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
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  24. ^ Kallon, Catherine (2012-06-02). "Who Wore Reem Acra Better? Olivia Wilde or Julie Bowen". Red Carpet Fashion Awards. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
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  30. ^ "Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Get Married!". US Weekly (Wenner Media). 2011-07-09. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  31. ^ "The Best Dressed Celebrity Brides of All Time". InStyle. InStyle. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Cox, Lauren (2014-03-02). "Jenna Dewan-Tatum’s Oscar Dress — Sexy Post-Baby Body In Reem Acra". Hollywood Life (PMC). Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Lopez, Cory (2012-09-23). "Emmys 2012: Zooey Deschanel Rocks Reem Acra, TV-Themed Nail Art (PHOTOS)". Celebuzz (SpinMedia). Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  34. ^ Callon, Katherine (2014-06-09). "Sutton Foster In Reem Acra – 2014 Tony Awards". Red Carpet Fashion Awards (RED CARPET FASHION AWARDS). Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
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  41. ^ "Mall of Emirates". 
  42. ^ "Harvey Nichols Hong Kong". 
  43. ^ "Fashion Grin". 
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  45. ^ "StyleNDubai". 
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  50. ^ "Reem Acra® Bride Barbie® Doll". Barbie Collector. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  51. ^ "Reem Acra - Barbie's 50th Anniversary Runway Show". In Style. 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  52. ^ Moorhouse, Victoria (2014-05-19). "Hot Designers Update Glinda and Dorothy's Wizard of Oz Wardrobes—See the Pics!". OK Magazine (Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group Inc.). Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
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  54. ^ "About -- Bridges of Understanding". http://www.bridgesofunderstanding.org/about/. http://www.bridgesofunderstanding.org/about/. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  55. ^ "CFDA Member - Reem Acra". Council of Fashion Designers of America. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  56. ^ Khouy, Stephanie (2014-08-14). "DUBAI DESIGN AND FASHION COUNCIL ANNOUNCED: a wealth of design and fashion experience". Style.Com (Style). Style. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
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  58. ^ "Designer Reem Acra's Fashion Must-Have: Her Dog, Lou Lou!". People (Time Inc.). 2011-08-31. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
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  60. ^ Raymond, Joan (2008-06-03). "The Dress Is in Chicago, but Lou Lou’s With Me". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
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  64. ^ "Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Title Sponsorship Extended to 2016". EuroDressage. Eurodressage bvba. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  65. ^ "WELCOME TO REEM ACRA & FEI". FEI. FEI. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  66. ^ Petcu, Oliver. "Reem Acra’s inspiring connection with equestrian sports". CPP Luxury. CPP Luxury. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  67. ^ Burkhardt, Marianne. "Reem Acra "very proud" of her association with FEI’s Best Athlete Award". FEI Awards. FEI. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  68. ^ "Adelinde Cornelissen, FEI Athlete of the Year 2011". eurodressage. 2011-11-15. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  69. ^ Ricca-Smith, Charlotte (2013-11-19). "Charlotte Dujardin named FEI's best athlete". Horse & Country (Horse & Country). Retrieved 27 August 2014. 

External links[edit]